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Is humanity inherently unsustainable?

What makes a mild-mannered biology professor call for a planned collapse of the economy?

Canadian scientist Bill Rees would know. He was an inventor of the ecological footprint concept, and has been measuring our impact on the planet for decades.

Now he's worried about survival. Ours and all living systems.

I'm Alex Smith. As I welcome you to Radio Ecoshock, many capitals have been war zones. Not just in Somalia, but Bangkok, Thailand, Kingston, Jamaica and even Athens. Another is flooded in Poland. Most Western capitals wrestle with deep economic worries, as stocks drop daily, as cities and states totter on the edge of bankruptcy.

The largest American river delta is flooding with oil, during the warmest three months on record.

The causes are well-known, but why can't we solve anything? Is it possible technology has outstripped the slow evolution of human brains? Are we too stupid to survive?

In this program, you will hear a mile-stone lecture by Dr. Bill Rees. About our three brains: the reactive reptile stem, mammalian emotions, and the late-coming attempt at rationality. Which wins?


Rees was invited to address a meeting of World Federalists in Vancouver, Canada. Conspiracy theorists and New World Order freaks can relax. The venue was almost incidental, to this summary of four decades of research into the human predicament.

Even here, technology intervened. The mouse cord was too short to allow Dr. Rees to stand near his computer. The professor, inspiration to more than one generation of ecologists, stood by my bare microphone, speaking 53 minutes without notes. His delivery was perfect, the message pressing and clear.

From a room in the Unitarian Church in Vancouver Canada, April 15th, 2010, here is Dr. Bill Rees. The title is "Is Humanity Inherently Unsustainable?"

After explaining years of research showing humanity has passed a biological condition known as "overshoot" - Rees is examining an evolutionary weakness in the human brain, which may explain our failure to react to dangerous threats to our own survival.

Professor William Rees teaches at the University of British Columbia, Canada. He is the co-inventor of the ecological footprint, and a Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute. This speech was recorded by Alex Smith of Radio Ecoshock, as hosted by the Vancouver Chapter of the World Federalists, on April 14th, 2010.

As the BP oil sinks into the American shoreline, we ended this show with a new song by California song-writer Dana Pearson, heard first on Radio Ecoshock. "Black Goo Goo (is bad for you)".



Listen to/download the lecture, on the Radio Ecoshock Show (1 hour/14 MB)


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